That’s why The Hunger Games is such a diabolical head fake. Forget about it being entertaining, which I concede it is. It has managed to convince everyone that a passive character whose main strength is that she thinks a lot of thoughts and feels a lot of feelings, but who ultimately lets every decision be made by someone else— that is a female hero, a winner. You wouldn’t allow yourself to like a story where the woman lacks agency, so it’s clothed in a vampire story or a female Running Man so it sounds like she’s making things happen. Or, if you prefer, in order to allow you to like an anti-feminist story, it is necessary to brand it as a vampire story or a female Running Man. Regardless of how you phrase it, the purpose is to get you to like this kind of a story. It wants you to think this is the next step in female protagonists. But it’s a trick: nothing has changed since the royal ball.
Really interesting read, about how Katniss effectively has no agency throughout the whole of the book. There are some things I disagree with (e.g. she does basically decide to kill Peeta at the end when she aims her bow at him) but overall solid point.
I liked how Katniss fell into a political position, fell into being a rebel … because I’m very political already, I like the idea that someone who thinks they don’t have a rebellious bone in their body finds that revolution is the only right thing to do.
But I think maybe this person needs to read the other 2 books because Katniss def. has agency. I just don’t think I would find as much pleasure in a book series where the main character was already a radical feminist, already a hardened anarchist, filled with virtuous hatred for the Capitol and wanting to be everyone’s saviour. She’s only 16.
I think it’s brilliant BECAUSE she just fell into it. It’s the strength she shows in coping with this forced role that does it for me. That old ‘some have greatness thrust upon them’ maxim…
Regardless, it’s pretty anti-feminist imo to take issue with a character who doesn’t always show political and revolutionary forms of strength but shows a strong family bond and a strong emotional strength.
She doesn’t ‘let’ everyone make decisions for her and it’s an insult to any of us who’ve ever been trapped in situations where others are in control to say so. Sometimes the strength isn’t in fighting an unwinnable battle, it’s in finding the strength within yourself to just survive.
I think it’s shitty to call Katniss passive or say she lacks agency. She’s not passive, she’s incredibly active, but she’s put in a position where she’s being used as a pawn, first by the capitol, then by the rebel group, and to a lesser degree Haymitch through the whole thing. Being used doesn’t make one passive. And she hates it. She tries to fight back against the capitol, against Coin, against Haymitch, even against Peeta, but she’s a 16-year-old girl. There’s only so much she can do.
Katniss is a character who is largely defined by her trauma. She hasn’t been allowed to rest or be a child since her father died. She lives in a place where the only thing she can do to survive is a capital crime. Every year she watches her peers get murdered by her government for something that happened 74 years previous. She knows that if she didn’t know how to hunt, she’d be prostituting herself to take care of her mother and sister. At 16. Is it any surprise that she isn’t breaking down doors to assert her personhood?
It isn’t feminist to take a female character and say she isn’t feminist because she’s not strong enough. She doesn’t have to be invincible to be feminist.
Exactly. I mean, her lack of agency is the entire point of the series; it’s never something that she just accepts. She’s very much aware that the people and systems around her are systematically stripping away every shred of control she has over her own life, and she’s deeply pissed off by the fact that she keeps getting forced and coerced and manipulated into positions and behaviors that she wants nothing to do with. At the beginning of the series, the only life goal she’s managed to formulate is “keep the one or two people I love unconditionally alive and relatively unharmed.” Her goals never really change — she’d like to survive herself, but mostly she really, really wants to make sure that the people she cares about have the freedom (and the food) to live their lives in a reasonably autonomous way. The list of people she cares about keeps getting longer, though, and that’s where her growth as a character happens: she tries harder and harder to have a positive effect on her world because it matters more and more to her that not just her agency but everyone else’s has been stolen by the people in power.
Possessing agency is not the same thing as being strong. Lacking agency is not the same thing as being passive. Lacking agency means that someone more powerful than you is taking it away from you, and Katniss’s entire story is about using whatever weapons she can find to take as much of it as possible back.
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